Title: 'Escapes' 1/3 

Authors: MoJo and Jori 

E-Mail: MoJo: mojober@aol.com and Jori: damienma@adelphia.net 

Rated: R Spoilers: What Kind of Day This Has Been, General Season One stuff 

Disclaimers: Not ours. They belong to NBC and Aaron Sorkin. Not us. We just borrow them and do all sorts of things to them. 

Summary: Josh and Donna work out exactly what they are to each other now and in the process, get more than just 'lunch.'

'Escapes' has been on our website for a few days but due to e-mail problems, we were unable to post it until now. If you read it there, it's the same version of the story.

This story follows immediately after 'Cravings.'

Authors Notes (as written by Jori): We actually began this story before the season premiere, but didn't get it done as fast as we would have liked to. We think it's better because of that. For the issue of gun control, I tried to find a response and a counter-response from both sides. Please do not view this as any sort of political agenda I might have because I only have a shipper agenda going.

You can find this story and the previous stories in this series at: http://www.netroenterprises.com/stateoftheunion/

****************

WRC 4 Washington, DC

Josh is hot today.

I take a few steps closer so I have a better view. The suit I picked out for him to wear this morning looks great on camera and I smile at my good taste. Not too bad considering it took me nearly twenty minutes to find one in his closet that wasn't rumpled or wrinkled. I wish I could say the same thing for myself. I look down and try to smooth the wrinkles out of my suit with no luck. That's what I get for leaving it in a heap on Josh's floor all night, but I didn't feel like getting out of bed to hang it up.

"Obviously, there is a problem with criminals having access to handguns, which is why so many people feel they, too, need a gun for self-defense. FBI Crime Reports sources indicate that there are about 340,000 reported fire arms thefts every year. Those guns, the overwhelming amount of which were originally manufactured and purchased legally, are now in the hands of criminals. Thus, the old credo "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" is preposterous. What happens is many guns bought legally are sold or stolen, and can then be used for crime. If those 340,000 guns were never sold or owned in the first place, that would be 340,000 less guns in the hands of criminals every year. Part of the reason there are so many handguns on the street in the hands of criminals is precisely because so many are sold legally. Certainly, there will always be a way to obtain a gun illegally. But if obtaining a gun legally is extremely difficult, the price of illegal guns goes way up, and availability goes way down. Thus, it is much more difficult for criminals to obtain guns," Josh says, talking so fast he barely even stops to breathe.

I watch with pride as Josh leans back and waits for the rebuttal, that little arrogant smile gracing the corner of his mouth. He clenches his fist tight. It's symbolic. He's got the Senator in his grasp and he knows it.

You go, Josh.

"Senator?" Deanne Lane, the host, asks. She gives the other man a nod. Sometimes I'm certain the debate is almost more important to Josh than the actual issue. He thrives on doing this.

"A Florida State University criminologist analyzed data from the Department of Justice and he found victims that defended themselves with a gun against a robbery or an assault had the least chance of being injured, or of having the crime completed. Doing nothing, trying to escape, reasoning with the offender, or physical resistance other than with a gun all had higher probabilities of injury and crime completion. Furthermore, it's been found that victims using guns were consistently less likely to lose cash or other property than other victims, and also establishing that this was true regardless of what weaponry was possessed or used by the offenders. Another study also found that burglaries in which victims resisted with guns were far less likely to be completed," Senator Paxton says, now smiling just as arrogantly at Josh.

The producer gives a signal to Deanne that it's time to wrap it up and before she can, Josh jumps in again.

"Yeah, that's all well and good until you're the one shot in the ass with an illegal handgun."

"I'm sorry, but that's all the time we have today on Perspectives. I'd like to thank my guests today, Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman and Senator Thomas Paxton from Montana," Deanne interjects before Josh can say anything else. "We will be providing coverage of the Town Hall Meeting tomorrow night, so keep it right here to News Channel 4 for your up to the minute news, weather and sports."

"You're going to have to step back," a woman with a clipboard and headset whispers harshly to me. She puts her hands lightly on my shoulders and pushes me back to where I was standing.

I open my mouth to protest.

"Josh Lyman's assistant, right?" she snaps and I glare at her indignantly. She gestures to my ID badge. "Well, you are, aren't you?"

"Yeah." And who does she think she is?

"Then you're going to have stand back here. There are several reporters waiting to get a quote or sound bite from him," she says, letting me go once I'm standing somewhere permissible. She nods over in the direction of the reporters, standing ready to ambush Josh the second the cameras stop rolling. "As an assistant, you know the drill."

Unfortunately, yes. I do. But I'm not just Josh's assistant anymore. I'm his ... I look back up at the stage.

"Nice job, Josh," Deanne says, leaning over towards Josh. Far enough so he's got a nice view of her cleavage. Not that she has a lot to begin with, of course. "I always love having you as my guest."

"I love being here," Josh says, as he tries to take off his microphone. His face is all lit up with post-debate glow. His fingers are shaking so much he can't even take off the mike.

"Here, let me," Deanne offers, her hands reaching out to remove it. She smiles and I roll my eyes. I think she's a friend of Mandy's. I remember that from Josh's last appearance. "I'd love to have dinner with you sometime and talk about your briefs."

"My briefs?" Josh asks, standing up so he can remove the unit clipped to his slacks in the back. Deanne stands up too and takes a step towards him.

"Political briefs," Deanne clarifies, holding out her hand and smiling. Josh drops the microphone into it. That's *not* what she meant. I'd love to rush the stage and tell her a thing or two about Josh's briefs. Like the fact he doesn't even wear them. He wears boxers.

"Are you dating anyone?" she asks, eyeing Josh up and down much like Eleanor 'Call me Ellie' Lufkin did yesterday.

"No, I'm not," Josh replies without hesitation. His eyes glance over at me quickly before focusing on Deanne again.

"Call me," Deanne says, before leaving the stage. "We can discuss how you're not dating anyone over dinner, too."

Josh watches her stroll off and as soon as she's gone, the reporters rush forward. I fold my arms and wait for Josh to finish. I am not the jealous type. In fact, I wasn't jealous of Joey Lucas one bit. I fold my arms and idly twist my ID badge around. I'm not jealous of Deanne either. I'm just...

"Donnatella!"

I look up and see Josh sauntering up to me with his strut in full swing.

"Did you see me up there?" he says, pointing back to the stage. "Did you see me *up there*?"

"Yeah, I saw you *up there* with Deanne Lane," I say with a little pout.

"Yeah? I was good," Josh says, buzzing with energy. "No, I was better than good. I was hot. Really hot. Didn't you think I was hot?"

I roll my eyes.

"We have to go, Josh," I say, looking down at my wrinkled suit. I brush past him, leaning in just long enough to add, "You'll have to bask in your post-debate glow in the car."

"Okay," I hear behind me. "But I was hot!"

*************

Washington, DC

"Josh?" Donna asks from the passenger seat of the car, making sure I'm listening before she starts speaking. I can tell from the tone of her voice she really doesn't have a question waiting there behind my name.

"Hmm?" I'm still soaring from my face-off with Paxton. He made the assault weapon bill an absolute hell when it got to the Senate and he's just as uptight about handgun control. Every time I throw something at him, he's got the perfect answer. I'm convinced his home in Montana must look like one giant gunrack. He's probably got a few deer heads mounted above his bed just for show. And if you ask him, yes, a semi automatic weapon is perfect for hunting mallards.

I wouldn't be fighting half as hard if he wasn't their front man. Something about him just pisses me off.

"I'm just your assistant."

I had already forgotten she mumbled my name a few seconds ago.

"Okay."

"That's all I am. All I can ever be," she says. I look at her briefly and she stares out the window at the buildings passing by.

"I'd make you Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff, but you'd probably feel stupid answering the phone like that," I say, coming to a stop at a red light. Now she looks forward and watches the traffic turning in front of us.

"That's not what I meant. It's just... I'm just your assistant."

"Why... what started this?" I ask. I turn my head to look at her but she doesn't turn toward me. "Don't you like your job anymore? You used to love this job. That is until we... until this."

I put my hand on her knee, hoping she remembers she's more than just my assistant. She still doesn't look my way.

"We can't ever go out and be seen together as more than Josh Lyman and his assistant. You're in the spotlight. People want to know your opinions and . . ."

"Donna, that's my job..."

"I know it's your job, Josh. And I know my job is as your assistant and at one time, that was all I ever wanted. But now that we're something else, too -- I don't know. It scares me that all people will ever know me as is your assistant. Let's say you had a horrible, tragic car accident and ended up dying on the side of the road in a ditch. No one would know to call me," she says with a resigned sigh. And here I thought everything was going so well.

"First of all, I'm not going to die in a ditch. Second of all, if I did die in a ditch, which I'm not going to, someone would call you. Sam would probably call you sooner or later. Third, this isn't forever," I say, counting through those things on my fingers. The light turns green and I accelerate. She goes back to looking out the side window. "There's only a few more years that we'll be in office and then this will all be over."

"Six years, Josh."

"Not according to Senator Paxton. We should be out of there in two more years," I say, gesturing the same way that Paxton did. Not that I think we'll be yanked out by our necks but whatever.

"You know what I mean."

"You could always get a different job. You'd lose a few benefits, like spending the day with me. And Air Force One. I'm sure Arent Fox doesn't come with Air Force One."

"Sam said the almost the same thing just the other day." She sounds slightly amused by that.

"You could get a different job in the White House even. We can shuffle around staffing," I say, knowing that someday we'll have to face that as a possiblity anyway.

"I don't..."

"Donna, I don't know what you want me to do. Do you want me to resign? I don't see the point in that since then you'd just be the next Deputy Chief of Staff's assistant and I'd be out of a job. But hell, we could go out and you could be called my girlfriend. Is that what this is all about? I-I'm just... I don't know what you want me to do," I say. "I just don't know."

We are within a block of her apartment and the traffic is particularly heavy for a Sunday morning. She needs to change before we go into the office and I'm just hoping I don't have to face her roommate. Yesterday was bad enough.

"No, I don't want you to quit your job. That's not the answer. I guess what I do want is an easy answer," she says with a resigned sigh.

"Yeah. Who doesn't want an easy answer? But I've learned doing what I do that an easy answer isn't always that *easy* to come by. This... us... it isn't going to be any different," I say, pulling into a parking space by her building.

She is certainly trying her hardest to bring me down from my post debate high. I love to debate when there's something clear-cut to debate about. This debate about what we're going to do with this thing we started... I don't have an answer. She can quit or I can quit but neither of us wants to do that.

"I guess I want it all." Donna looks out the window at her apartment building but doesn't make a move to get out of the car yet. "You coming in? We should probably show up at different times or at least in different cars today."

"I'll come in for a few minutes. Just to say 'hi' to the cats," I say and she finally smiles. I can see her smile in the reflection on the glass. "Donna?"

"Hmm?"

"I want everything, too. But most of all, I do want you."

She finally turns to me and gives me a weak smile. I'm not going to let her ruin this good day. No one can ruin this day.

*************

Donna Moss' Apartment

"She's not here," I say, easily reading Josh's mind. I drop my purse on the sofa beside a sleeping Tabitha. "She works all day on Sundays."

"Good," he says, still looking around suspiciously for my roommate. He's still so high from the debate he actually bends down and scratches Cleo behind the ears. The cat, recognizing Josh, immediately hisses. "Damn cat!"

"Maybe you're too *hot* for her," I chide, moving quickly to my bedroom. It's a mess, even though I haven't slept here in two nights. I open my closet, pick out some 'business casual' clothes appropriate for a Sunday and toss them on my bed.

"Maybe I'm too *hot* for you," he teases, suddenly appearing in the doorway. Josh leans against the threshold and shoves his hands in his pockets. He watches me carefully as I unzip my skirt and step out of it. "I'm not going to dinner with Deanne Lane if that's what's got you all upset."

"I'm not upset," I say, stepping out of my pumps. I shrug and lift my chin in the air. "Who said I was upset?"

"You're pouting. You're upset."

"No, I'm not. And for your information, Joshua Lyman, I'm not the jealous type," I say confidently, pulling my blouse over my head and discarding it by my skirt. My hose are next. "But you could have said you were seeing someone."

"If I did, she's be all over my ass finding out who."

"She was all over your ass anyway."

Josh smiles and it's one of those smiles that melts me from the inside out. "Yeah, but I've got a nice ass."

"You better hope no one shoots you in it with an illegal handgun," I say, positive that little comment didn't go over well.

"If they do, would you come see me in the hospital?" Josh asks hopefully, moving towards the bed. He lays down on it, stretching out on his side with his head propped up on his elbow so he can watch me. Pervert. Figures Josh would get turned on by watching a woman dress. He's so unconventional.

"As your assistant?"

"No, as my girlfriend," Josh clarifies, reaching out for me. His fingers catch mine and soon he's holding my hand, stroking his thumb across my palm.

"Maybe."

"Just maybe?" he asks. I let him pull me onto the bed, across my clothes and to his side.

"Only you and I will know I'm your girlfriend," I say, lying down beside him so we are face to face. I prop my head up, too. Josh's hand reaches up to smooth my hair behind my shoulder. I sigh softly as the back of his fingers slide across my cheek, tracing my features slowly.

"Does it really matter if anyone else does?" he asks, as I close my eyes. The next thing I feel is Josh's lips on my forehead, my eyelids, my cheek.

"Not when you put it like that," I say with a little pout, just before his lips touch mine. Soft at first, but then they part to deepen it.

"Oh Josh...yeah."

"I love it when you say that," Josh says, pulling me closer and claiming my mouth once again. He's still got all that energy coursing through his veins, waiting to be spent on something. Seems a shame to waste it. His legs tangle with mine and I wrap my arms around his neck. I would love to spend the whole day in bed with him, but we probably should have been at work already.

Josh rolls us over so I'm on top, my body fitting perfectly into his. His fingers move up to the back of my bra and he groans into my mouth as he remembers it hooks in the front. Maybe that's a good thing. We shouldn't be doing this now. We have to get to work. We have to...

Josh's lips find that one soft spot on my neck right by my jawline and he kisses it over and over again. It sends a warm shiver down my spine.

"We have to go," I mutter before I won't be able to say the words.

"Why?" Josh asks, his voice strained with longing. He brings his hands to my face to lower my mouth to his. "I'm hot today, Donna. I can be a little late."

"Don't be cocky, Josh," I say, forcing myself to tear away from him. Josh groans. "Let's go."

"Are you talking as my assistant or my girlfriend right now?"

"Both," I say, moving off him and the bed. I grab my clothes so I can get dressed.

"Okay," Josh says, rubbing his eyes. "I guess we should get to work. I'm sure they're all waiting for me."

"Because you're hot."

"Yeah. I'm hot," Josh says, smiling to himself.

*************

The White House Washington, DC

I can hear her coming down the hall. I've learned to recognize the various sounds of everyone's gait so I can judge before they get here whether they are pissed or not. And judging by the fast clip of this particular stride, CJ is pissed. Donna is standing next to me going through my messages and listening to me bitch about the wobbly wheel on my chair but even she freezes when CJ gets to my office door and stands there fuming.

"Donna, could you excuse us, please? I need to speak to Joshua," CJ says. I can tell from her voice that she's maintaining a certain demeanor of calm because she doesn't want to yell at me in front of my 'assistant,' but I know as soon as Donna is gone and the door is shut, I'm going to catch hell for something. Please just don't let it be about Donna. I'm not ready for that just yet.

Besides, I'm pretty sure Leo would have my ass in his office if that were the case. This is something else.

"I -- I'll just go," Donna says, moving past CJ, getting out of here as quickly as she can.

"Are you stupid?" CJ says as soon as the door is closed. "No. I don't even have to ask that. I know you're stupid. The question should instead be how stupid are you, Josh?"

"What'd I do now?"

"You don't know?" she asks, sounding completely exasperated that I have no clue what's going on right at this moment.

"No, I have no idea..."

"Let me quote then," she says, pulling out one note card from her pocket. She looks up at me before looking down at it. "And remember, I am quoting you -- 'yeah, that's all well and good until you're the one shot in the ass with an illegal handgun.' Do you recall saying those words, Josh?"

"Yes," I say, looking away from her piercing glare.

"Josh, we prepped you for days and at no time do I remember discussing with you this -- this 'shot in the ass' come back that you pulled out of the air this morning. Would you like to explain it to me?" she asks. CJ stands her ground with her arms crossed over her chest, waiting.

"C.J., I, uh... did get some valid points in there if you were listening. Like the..." I start to say, but I'm not certain she really wants to hear what I have to say at this point. Even if she asked.

"Maybe you forgot this over the last few days. I mean, with the prep for the Town Hall Meeting going on and the thing with Hoynes' office, but we're supposed to persuade congress to see it our way, Josh. Not say stupid things like that. Not on a Sunday morning television show their supporters are watching. We just looked bad. After what we accomplished the last few days, we don't need you driving us backwards," CJ says, her eyes looking somber. "Even if you are right, we just don't need it."

"I'm... sorry."

"I'm just saying..." CJ starts to say but she doesn't need to say more.

"CJ, I know. I know, I know... what do you want me to do?" I ask, pinching the bridge of my nose.

"Paxton's office hasn't said anything yet, so hold tight. I just wanted you to know that was a very stupid thing to do. We've been down this road before and you just don't learn. We don't need this kind of stuff coming back to haunt us this week. It's going to be tough enough with this Town Hall coming up on us," CJ says with a heavy sigh.

"I'm not out there trying to make your job harder, CJ," I say in my most apologetic tone.

"Sometimes I doubt that. I think you just want to see me work under pressure," she says, smiling a little.

"You do great under pressure," I say. "You always have."

"Yeah, I do. But stop testing me, Josh. I have my limits," she says, moving towards the door.

"I'll try not to test you again or at least not again this week. But I can't make any promises about next week," I say, giving her a smile as she opens my office door.

"Well, thanks for trying," she says, leaving me alone in my office. My solitude doesn't last for long. Donna comes marching in two seconds after CJ walks out.

"That was about that 'ass' comment, wasn't it?" she asks, knowing full well what it was about.

"Why didn't you warn me that was coming?" I ask and she gives me a smile and a shrug.

"Because you were *hot* if I recall correctly," she says, leaning near me to straighten out some papers. Leaning very close, actually. She smells like flowers though I don't know how considering she showered at my apartment and I only have Irish Spring.

"Donna, I'm still hot," I say, my voice barely a whisper. She leans just a fraction of an inch closer and I reach out and touch her ID tag dangling from her neck, spinning it a little. Her eyes meet mine.

"I know."

************

Continued in Part II

E-Mail: MoJo: mojober@aol.com and Jori: damienma@adelphia.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

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